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RI Veterans: Did you know? 20-07-22 – John A. Cianci

by John A. Cianci, Department Veterans Service Officer, Italian American War Veterans (ITAM)

Did you know that 20% of the estimated 60,000 veterans in Rhode Island are receiving VA compensation for an illness or condition due to military service?

Question: I completed a claim and filed it with the VA and have not heard anything. What should I do? – Emile, Woonsocket RI 

Answer: If you have not heard anything within 60 days, you can call the VA, at 800-827-1000. Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. ET. 

Be sure to document the call, including the name of the VA representative you spoke with. 

In addition, Emile, you can go online, https://www.ebenefits.va.gov/ebenefits/homepage and check the status of the claim.

And if all us fails, contact your local congressional leader and ask for the representative tasked with assisting veterans. 

Emile, I hope this week’s column helps you understand the claim process. – John

Understanding the VA Claim Process

To be successful in being awarded benefits a veteran has earned and is entitled to, the veteran must educate themselves on the benefits process he or she could be entitled to. Sadly, to many veterans are entitled to thousands of dollars of monthly compensation for injuries and or conditions as a result of their service.

From the VA website, https://www.va.gov/disability/after-you-file-claim/ :

What happens after I file a VA disability claim?

The VA will let you know when we receive your VA disability claim.

If you file your claim online, you’ll get an on-screen message from us after you submit the form.

If you mail your application, we’ll send you a letter to let you know we have your claim. You should get this letter about one week, plus mailing time after we receive your claim.

After a veteran makes a claim for compensation due to service disabilities, a Compensation and Pension Exam (C&P) or VA examination is usually scheduled to determine whether a veteran’s disability is related to his or her service or to decide the degree of a service-connected disability. There are cases where the service connection is clearly not there, and it is up to the VBA whether a C&P exam is even set up.

The VA or a contracted company (QTC, VES, etc.) will contact veterans by phone, email, FedEx, UPS or through the US Postal Service to inform them of the time, date, and place of the C&P examination.

VETTIP – Look out for scammers. If you are contacted to schedule an exam, you will be asked for your date of birth, which I recommend you do not provide until you verify the call is the VA or a contractor working for the VA. The method recommended:

1. Ask the caller for a number you can call back or ask the caller to send you an email with the name of the company and contact information to call to schedule an appointment. 

Once you receive notice of a C&P examination, how should you prepare?

If a veteran cannot attend the examination at the time the C&P exam is scheduled, he or she may suggest a different time and date. Failure to attend an examination or reschedule before the date of the original appointment can result in a denial of a veteran’s claim.

If a veteran misses an appointment and fails to reschedule, he or she may still be able to schedule a new examination by providing “good cause” for missing the initial appointment (he or she did not receive notice of the examination, was hospitalized during the date of the examination, did not have transport, was incarcerated, etc.).

How should I dress for my C&P examination?

Veterans may dress as they would normally dress. They do not need to wear formal clothing or make extra efforts to improve their appearance for an examination. The examiner would prefer to see veterans as they appear in everyday life.

Should I bring my spouse?

A veteran’s spouse can be a great source of information for how disabilities affect daily life. A veteran’s spouse may know just as much about the symptoms of a service-related disability or condition as the veteran does. For example: “He snores all night. He has nightmares and says things in his sleep. He is always checking the locks on the door. He doesn’t like to see any friends anymore.”. Whether the spouse is allowed into the C&P exam is up to the examiner and it should be the Veteran who requests the spouse be present.

Should I bring any outside medical records?

A veteran can bring any private medical records he or she feels may help the examiner make a favorable decision. All the pertinent evidence should already have been sent to the VBA with the claim. Do not expect the C&P examiner to send any evidence you hand them to the VBA. Remember, it is the VA Rater at the VBA that decides your claims, not the C&P examiner.

VETTIP – The Veteran Service Officer for the Italian American War Veterans of the US (ITAM) organization encourages veterans to submit evidence before the exam, specifically for that exam. In the notice you receive, the veteran should be able to determine what the exam is for. For example, the VA is not going to send you to a heart doctor for a hearing claim (although I have seen this happen by mistake).

Upon receipt of the appointment, the veteran should research and learn more about the examiner by searching the internet. If the veteran believes or questions the qualification of the examiner, he or she should contact the VA to discuss it. Ask the VA exactly why this appointment has been scheduled. 

Be prepared for the exam, by having notes to reference. In the initial exam, the examiner is reviewing the injury and or illness you have filed a claim. In addition, the examiner is reviewing when the condition started, which could have been initially on active duty. 

VETTIP – During the exam, the veteran must be prepared to answer how he or she links the illness or injury to your service. In my case, after 10 years of active duty, an MRI was done within a year after I was discharged from active duty. The MRI showed severe degeneration in my neck and both shoulders and since I filed a claim for the condition within a year of getting off after duty, under law, I had presumption. 

Should I bring my assistive devices?

If a veteran wears orthotic shoes, carries a cane, or regularly uses any other assistive devices, he or she should bring them to his or her examination. The examiner may want to see how they are worn or used and why they are needed.

How do I get copies of the exam?

Finally, a veteran may ask for a copy of the examination paperwork immediately after the examination is completed. If a veteran cannot get a copy of the examination immediately, he or she may ask the examiner to mail a copy as soon as possible. It takes less time for a veteran to send examination results to his or her representative than it does for the representative to request the results through the VA. The examiner is not required to give a copy to you, and this is a courtesy. C&P exam results done at the VA can be obtained after 30 calendar days on the MyHealtheVet website under ‘Blue Button’ in the ‘Notes’ section. C&P exams done at a VA contractor will not be made available online and typically you will need to file a VBA 20-10206 form to the Janesville Intake Center

RI Veterans: Did you know?” Sponsor – Precision Home Lending

RESOURCES

Below are all of the groups the Providence Vet Center is currently offering.  As this list changes, I will provide updates. Please send me any questions that you may have, thank you for your time!

*** All Vet Center Groups require that the Veteran be enrolled with the Vet Center prior to attending. To check eligibility or for questions, please contact the Vet Center at (401) 739-0167 or reach out to our Veteran Outreach Program Specialist (VOPS) via email at Justyn.Charon@va.gov ***

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Group (PTSD) – 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month from 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. (Group is only active September through May)

Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) and Vietnam Veterans PTSD Group – 2nd and 4th  Wednesday of the month from 9:30 – 11:00 a.m.

Vietnam Veteran PTSD Group – 1st and 3rd Monday of the month from 10:30 – 12:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Art Expression Group – Every Thursday from 9:00 – 12:00 p.m.

Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF)/Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF)/Operation New Dawn (OND) Group – Every Wednesday from 11:00 – 12:00 p.m.

Stress Management– Every Thursday from 9:00 – 10:00 a.m.

Low Impact Walking Group – Every Tuesday from 9:00 – 10:00 a.m.

Guitar 4 Veterans – Every Wednesday from 7:00-8:30 p.m.

Monday Mindfulness Group – Every Monday from 10:00 – 11:00 a.m.

Yoga Group – Every Friday from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.

Moral Injury Group – Every Friday from 10:00 – 11:00 a.m.

Modern Warrior Support Group – 1st and 3rd Monday of the month from 2:30 – 4:00p.m.

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DISCOUNTS

Restaurants

Applebee’s – Military Discount … With more than 2,000 locations, Applebee’s is a family grill restaurant. Applebee’s gives 10% off for active duty and veteran. Last verified 07/31/2028

Denny’s – Hartford Ave, Johnston offers 10% discount for veterans and active duty . Denny’s is a table service diner-style restaurant chain.  Last verified 07/31/2028 (PS I had breakfast there on Saturday).

Outback Steakhouse – 10% Discount to active and veterans. Last verified 07/28/2021

99 Restaurant & Pub – The 99 Restaurant & Pub offers a 10% military discount to members of Veterans Advantage. Available at select locations only. Bring valid military ID

Retailers

Advance Auto Parts – 10% for Active Duty, Veterans, and families. Last verified 07/28/2021

Bass Pro Shops –  Offers a 5% discount to active-duty military, reservists, and National Guard. Sign up and verify your status online or bring your military ID when you shop at your nearest Bass Pro store (source).

BJs Wholesale – Reduced membership fee. BJ’s offers all military personnel over 25% off their Membership. Last verified 07/28/2021

Lowes – Enroll in the Lowe’s Military Discount Program to activate your 10% discount – “Our way of saying Thank You” to our active duty, retired and military veterans and their spouses with a 10% discount on eligible items. Verification of your military status is fast and easy through our partner, ID.me. ID.me is our trusted technology partner in helping to keep your personal information safe.

GameStop – is offering a 10% in-store military discount on all pre-owned products, collectibles, and select new products. Available to current and former military members who bring any valid proof of service or when they verify through ID.me

Home Depot – Offers a 10% off military discount on regularly priced merchandise for in-store purchases for active duty, retired military, and reservists at participating locations. Customers are required to show a valid government-issued military ID card to redeem this offer.

Kohls – 15% discount offers for active military, veterans, retirees, and their immediate family members a 15% discount on purchases made on Mondays, in store only. In order to receive the military discount, eligible customers must present proper identification along with any tender type.

Jiffy Lube – HONORING VETERANS ALL DAY EVERY DAY! Every Team Car Care owned and operated Jiffy Lube® service center is offering our BEST discount of 15% OFF as a “Thank You” to the men and women of our Armed Forces for their service to our country. *Disclaimer*- I.D. required. No coupon is required. Excludes batteries and brakes, alignment, and diagnostic services. Available only at select locations listed below:

Tioque Ave, Coventry RI – Bald Hill Road, Warwick RI – Park Ave, Cranston RI

Michaels – offers a 15% off military discount on the entire in-store purchase including sale items for active duty, retired military, guard, reservists, veterans, and family members. How to get –

1.    Create an Account. Log in or create a Michaels Rewards account.

2.    Get Verified. Provide your military information to get verified instantly.

3.    Go Shopping! To use your discount online and in store, just sign into your account or provide your Michaels Rewards phone number at checkout.

O’Reilly Auto Parts – 10% discount on in store items for Active Duty, Veterans and families. Last verified 3/4/21.

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If you are a retailer and or a veteran aware of a business not listed above, please forward to itamri4vets@gmail.com:  the business’s name , location, and military and veteran discount offered.

If you have an event, meeting, other pertinent veteran information, or email questions or help needed, contact the Italian American War Veteran Service Officer, John A Cianci, itamri4vets@gmail.com, ITAM Office 1-(401)677-9VET(9838)

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To read all columns in this series go to: https://rinewstoday.com/john-a-cianci/

John A. Cianci is a Veteran Service Officer. Retired, U.S. Army MSgt., Persian Gulf War and Iraq War combat theater.

Cianci, a combat disabled Veteran, served in Desert Shield/Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. His awards include Bronze Star, Combat Action Badge, Good Conduct, and others.

Cianci belongs to numerous veterans organizations – Italian American War Veterans, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign War, United Veterans Council of Rhode Island, and many more organizations. He is an active volunteer assisting veterans to navigate federal and state benefits they have earned. He is Department of Rhode Island Department Commander Italian American War Veterans and Veteran Service Officer.

He is a graduate of Roger Williams University (BS Finance), UCONN business school* (Entrepreneur Bootcamp For Veterans), Solar Energy International Residential, Commercial and Battery Based Photovoltaic Systems certificate programs, numerous certificates from the Department of Defense renewable energy programs, including graduate of the Solar Ready Vets Program.

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